The government has announced new blue British passports will start to be issued next month following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 January.
This is the first time in more than three decades that we’ll see blue passports at airports.
The new design, which was a much-debated topic during the lead-up to Brexit, starts hitting people’s plastic holiday wallets in March.
The blue passports will continue to be issued alongside the old burgundy ones for the time being, with the government estimating all newly printed passports will be blue by summer.
Guidance from the UK government on the new passports reads: “Blue passports will be phased in over a number of months. If you renew your passport during this initial period, you may be issued with either a blue or a burgundy British passport. You will not be able to choose whether you get a burgundy or a blue passport. All styles of passport will be equally valid for travel.
“All British passports issued from mid-2020 will be blue.”
As well as the change in hue, the new passports will also feature the floral emblems of the constituent parts – for now, at least – of the United Kingdom: Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Leaving the European Union gave us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path in the world.”
“By returning to the iconic blue and gold design, the British passport will once again be entwined with our national identity and I cannot wait to travel on one.”
However, much to the chagrin of some, the passports are – in actual fact – made in France by the company Thales.
The Home Office also claims the new documents are the most technologically advanced passports going, and also the greenest in the world.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The carbon footprint produced through manufacture will be reduced to net zero, through projects such as planting trees.”
They were first issued back in 1921, and continued to be used right up until the UK joined the EU in 1988, which was at the time known as the European Economic Community.
When the designs were standardised, they went out of use.
If you’re sitting on a burgundy passport still, you can use them until they expire, by the way.